Elected leader of the Liberal Party at her Montreal school's mock election in seventh-grade, Dale Gantous knew at an early age what sort of role she was destined for (and how she could make the morning headlines). Passionate and hard-working as she worked her campaign trail, the Montreal Star even picked-up on her charismatic traits stating "Dale's promises were sweetest of all" after her big win. Dale's sweet personality hasn't changed at all in 40-years, and neither has her dedication to follow through with her promises to get every job she does done well. A mother of five-year old twins, CEO of InGenius Inc., and winner of the 2008 Sara Kirke Award, Dale has more than a few tips on what it takes to stay on top.
To view Dale's complete profile for more great tips, please click HERE.
Five Critical Success Factors for Technology Leaders by Anne Raymond
The demands of technology leadership are changing as the world around us changes at a rapid pace. Today’s leaders must face increasing global competiveness while delivering innovative products that drive business results. Technology leaders must possess a global perspective, cultural awareness, be able to steer the ship in uncertain times, and engage and manage sophisticated and geographically- dispersed teams. Women climbing the corporate high-tech leadership ladder are a bit “lonely-at-the-top” and need to continue to build infrastructure that will support them, develop skills and a personal style that will advance them in an often male-dominated environment.
Here are 5 success factors for leaders in technology to develop and continue to grow:
Setting the Stage – Developing a vision or big picture is critical. A vision with meaning and purpose (especially combined with a leader’s passion) motivates and inspires people to work towards the same common goal with a deeper level of commitment and engagement. Creating a purposeful vision helps you navigate through muddy waters, keeps you on course, and filters out “shiny objects” that can distract you. Great leaders always have an eye on where they are going while they are adapting to constant change, persevering through rough times, and continuing to make decisions in challenging circumstances.
Business Drivers - A key in technology-leadership success is the ability to understand the basic business drivers that will make the technology a success, how it is differentiated in the market, and what drives the bottom-line. Every high-tech leader must understand enough underlying technology and the “value proposition” for customers. A leader who wants to advance should consider expanding her knowledge and skills across many functional areas (business development, marketing, finance, manufacturing, etc).
Proactive Strategic Thinker –One of the big challenges faced by all leaders is the constant bombardment of e-mails, phone calls, meetings, and bursting schedules. It’s a world of always-on, rapid response and constant interruptions. If you want to shift your focus from a reactive small-potato approach to proactive-strategic big thinker, you must create the time, energy, and environment to focus on the big picture while developing systems to deal with the underlying chaos.
Communication Skills - The skill of communication is critical for any leadership position. It includes creating presence and confidence, articulating key messages, developing a voice that carries and can be heard, establishing rapport with people, and asserting your contributions in a meeting or discussion. In a broad sense, communication deals with every interaction of negotiation, conflict resolution, and influencing the direction. If you master your communication skills, you will not doubt be in a great position for climbing the corporate ladder.
Building Talent - Motivating people and leveraging their skills and talents to deliver results in a “do-more-with-less” era is critical to succeed as a leader and as a business. Understanding your strengths and providing your best self to the people around you will create trust and open communication. Knowing when to lead and when to delegate and “get out of the way” allows people to flourish. One of today’s biggest challenges is attracting and retaining top talent in an increasingly competitive environment. By having a “talent strategy” that clearly indicates the type of people you are looking for, where you can recruit them, and how you will develop them will be important.
What is different about being a woman in technology leadership? There are fewer women in the high-tech industry and less representation in the top leadership positions. Advancement into leadership positions should be looked at closely so that neither gender is overlooked or skills misinterpreted. Having a strong networking circle and mentors or sponsors to guide you will support your rise in your leadership journey. Here are some ideas to get you started:
It's lonely at the top - There still remains proportionately few women in leadership positions in technology-based companies. It is especially important to find a guide to help navigate the waters, a sponsor who can advocate on your behalf, people to help you on the inside and outside of your organization, or a coach or buddy to partner with. Be on the look-out for people who can support you and be willing to ask for their help (because we all need a little boost sometimes).
Personal Style - A woman's style and approach can be different than a man's. There is no question that being assertive, portraying confidence, creating presence, and being heard are keys to rising in the leadership ranks for either gender. It is important to understand your personal strengths and style and build on them. Own your own personal and professional development and look for resources inside and outside your company to grow.
Networking Circle - Building relationships and connections with a broad group of people will help you personally and professionally by supporting your sense of belonging, building your knowledge, advancing your career, or starting a business. Build a "networking circle" that is fun, meaningful, AND useful to both parties. Consider networking with a broad-based circle of people (instead of narrow and deep) across your organization and outside your business/industry.
Join CATA-WIT as a member, sponsor, or mentor to build your high-tech leadership talent and networking with other successful women leaders in the technology field.
By Anne Raymond, CATA-WIT Professional Development Champion and Executive Coach
Contact Anne at Anne@xtremeproductivity.com or visit www.xtremeproductivity.com
With input and thanks to Sandra Saric, Carol Martin, and Joanne Stanley.